Customers at Alex and Cathy Kamvissis' Montmorency cafe, Espresso 3094, had been begging them for years to open at night. Instead, the couple came up with a cunning plan, taking over another site opposite, where they'll open Sicilian restaurant Montibello Pasta & Pizze Bar on October 3.
Montibello – a contraction of Montmorency plus bello (Italian for beautiful) – is the Kamvissis' answer to the lack of Italian eateries in the suburb. "We felt it was a no-brainer, bringing something like this here," says Cathy.
Housed in the former Cherry Red cafe on Were Street, near Montmorency train station, the site has been stripped of its dark red tones and refitted with white subway tiles, a tan leather banquette and blond timber. The lights are trimmed in gold, and a large photograph of Sophia Loren eating pizza adorns one wall.
"I've kept the palette quite neutral," says Cathy. "I think that the food is what adds colour to a place."
Sicilian-born head chef Franco Italia (ex-Sud, Carmine's Bistro and Centonove) has put together a menu of home-style Italian dishes – pork and veal polpette, mussels cooked in garlic and tomato with house-made focaccia, a Sicilian-style octopus salad with celery leaves and kipfler potatoes, and veal scallopini.
The pasta is house-made, the pizza options are many, and Sicilian classics such as cannoli, crema fritta (fried custard), cannoli and sfinci (Sicilian doughnuts) bookend the menu.
For drinks, there will be a few spritz options, including a Monty Spritz made with Amaro Montenegro in lieu of Campari, along with Peroni and Moretti beers, and a couple of Italian wines.
The doors swing open at Montibello on October 3.
Open Wed to Sun 5pm-late.
61 Were Street, Montmorency, 03 9435 1115, facebook.com/montibello.eatery